January 21, 2018
Lest one think that ‘love of neighbor’ is too distant a relationship for measuring the love of a parent for a child – how about: There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend? Nowhere in the Scriptures is there ever a hint of the notion that loving someone else will make you feel good about yourself or make you happy. At best, the Scriptural view of love will make you very sad. That is when it becomes important to recall that Blessed are the sorrowing, for they will be consoled.
Indeed, I tell couples who are ready to have a baby that this child will break their hearts just as Mary’s maternity meant a sword of sorrow to pierce her heart. That is just what happens when anyone loves, not for self-centered reasons, but according to the pattern laid out for us in Christ. I offer these quotes so that it becomes clear that a lot of the stuff we hear about children and the rights of parents (to have or to get rid of) just won’t work in a Christian mindset.
So how does a parent know what to do? I think that there is just one question that will clarify every other question: What does God want this child of mine to have?
From womb to worm this is a sure guide on what a parent should be doing and thinking and planning for a child:
- The best possible pre-natal care
- The most stable possible parental environment
- Food, shelter, clothing, medical attention and educational opportunities consistent with need and resources
- Age-appropriate introduction to religion
- Formation in authentically Christian friendships and associations
- The best possible example in all these areas
- Above all, the child must be gradually introduced into the meaning of Christian adulthood (cf. everything that has come before).
These bullets are only summaries. I think that it is clear that there’s a lot of detail missing in this list. Notice, though, that it says nothing about such sacred cows as athletic success or financial parity or recreational activities. All of those must be measured against that stuff called ‘authentic Christianity’. Too often, in our age, there is a tendency to think of religion as one more thing that children need -- along with all the other things that every kid wants and/or the proverbial everyone has or does. Unless all of that is firmly
measured by the norm of God’s plan for the child – as measured by his genetic endowment and local
opportunities – then some other plan will take over, some other needs or wants will become priorities and
the whole business of a cooperative effort with God will become a financial and calendar enslavement of the parents to the rearing of the American teenager. God help us!
I’ll have more to say about that as we continue on this theme (about which I never thought I had so much to say!)
Really and truly and parentally yours,